End of roll-over to hit coarse grains

By Farmers Weekly staff

COARSE grain markets are likely to come under renewed pressure in the next few years, after the removal of the so-called roll-over provisions, which formed part of the last GATT agreement.

Under this arrangement, the EU was given an annual volume of grain it could export each year with the use of export subsidies, with the amount declining annually.

Any quota not actually used could be rolled over into the next years allocation, providing breathing space for exporters.

But from next season this facility will no longer exist, senior commission official John Bensted-Smith told a recent Amsterdam conference organised by EU grain traders body COCERAL.

There are a number of sectors where this will have great importance.

Last season, for example, the GATT limit on coarse grain refunds came to 11.9 million tonnes, while actual subsidised exports reached 14.8m tonnes.

This was only made possible by the inclusion of 10.9m tonnes of accumulated roll-over.

Without this, life will become much tougher, warned Mr Bensted-Smith.

If you look at our expected out-turn for the current campaign, (16.6m tonnes), and compare it with the limits under which we will have to live from 2000/01, (10.8m tonnes), we have some immediate difficulty in relation to the coarse grain sector, he said.

With an extra 6m tonnes of barley and rye looking for an unsubsidised home, it seems certain the commissions projected 20m tonne EU stockpile for this season will be pushed higher still, putting further pressure on prices.

Wheat is less of a problem with anticipated exports of 14.3m tonnes just covered by the 14.4m tonnes of restitution available for next season.

Thereafter, the commission predicts that export subsidies may not be necessary, with Agenda 2000 price cuts bringing EU internal values close to world levels of about $100/t.

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